Like all Wittenberg students, Looney is required to complete 30 hours of community service to graduate. A Springfield native, Looney was able to combine his favorite hobby with the opportunity to give back to his community in an innovative way.
A member of a Bluegrass band called Pik Crew, Looney helped organize an Honor Flight mission, first by playing fund-raising concerts and then by accompanying local veterans on a trip to Washington, D.C. A history buff, the community service project was the perfect educational opportunity for Looney, and the end result was an experience he will "never forget."
"I have always had great respect for the World War II generation," Looney said. "I have loved history ever since I was old enough to listen to a story, and now as a history major, I know in great detail the sacrifices these veterans made, just because it was what had to be done.
"I also love bluegrass music. The fact that we have been able to combine both of these things for such a good cause is fantastic. Also, by volunteering at the Honor Flight office here in Springfield, and taking the trip to D.C., I have learned how much work and planning goes into one of these flights."
Honor Flight is a Springfield-based program that takes veterans to the nation's capital to visit war memorials recognizing the sacrifices of American men and women who served in such wars as World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iwo Jima. Looney not only raised money for the June 2008 trip, he helped with organizational details and then served as a guardian and chaperone.
"The best way I can describe it is an experience of a lifetime," Looney said. "As college students, it is often easy to complain about all that is being expected of us. We should think back to what that generation had to give up in order to preserve the way of life that we still enjoy today."
While Looney grew up in Springfield, it wasn't the close proximity to Wittenberg that convinced him to attend the university. Instead, it was Wittenberg's prestigious department of education. Once he started taking classes at Wittenberg, his passion for history was enhanced as well.
He has found his niche at Wittenberg as a history major and education minor. Wittenberg faculty members have had a great influence on Looney, as he has formed close relationships with Instructor of Education Debra Mallonee and Professor of History Tom Taylor, among other faculty members in his respective areas of interest. Feeling fully prepared for a professional career, Looney now plans to become a social studies teacher.
"You would have a hard time finding a better place to go to college," Looney said. "It is not easy, but in the end, you will be proud of all you have accomplished."
- Written by Ronni Appenbrink '09